The Bloody Mary is one of the few alcoholic drinks that can be consumed before noon without social taboo. Whether you enjoy it as a companion to Sunday brunch or as a restorative beverage after a long night, a Bloody Mary should be carefully constructed and made to order. The Bloody Mary was invented in 1921 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris by a prophetic bartender named Fernand Petiot who took a popular drinkvodka and tomato juiceand added salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce and named it after Hollywood actress, Mary Pickford. Tabasco was added to the recipe in the ’30s by a customer of Petiot’s and the modern day drink was born.
In Nashville, there are several destinations for the perfect Bloody Mary. For football fans heading downtown for a Titans game on a Sunday morning, The Gerst Haus (301 Woodland St.) is a favorite stop and the Bloody Mary is a fan favorite. The mix is thick and spicy and served with plenty of vodka in a chilled glass. If you’re really hurting, they serve a large Mary in a fishbowla German style drinking glass the size of a small child’s head for under $10.
For a delicious variation on the classic recipe, try a Dirty Bloody Mary at Jackson’s (1800 21st Ave. South). Borrowing some ingredients from the martini, Jackson’s version mixes olive-flavored vodka and a very spicy mix, garnished with large green olives. For those of you who think the best Bloody Mary is the one you make, Sportsman’s Grille (1601 21st Ave. South) has the answer: a Bloody Mary bar. Every Sunday morning the bartender sets up a table of ingredients to make your own version of the perfect drink with your choice of mixes, a wide selection of hot sauces, as well as a full range of spices and fresh garnishes. You can try new recipes each time you go and the drinks are among the strongest you’ll find in town.
It is important to discover your favorite additions to a Bloody Mary and order accordingly in whichever bar you find yourself. Most mixes are spicy to begin with, but can be heated up with horseradish, hot sauce and pepper. Celery is the most common garnish, but variations include olives, okra, string beans and peppers. One fine establishment in Boston coats the rim of their Bloody Mary glasses in salt, like a Margarita. It’s a great way to cut some of the heat and also helps with any hangover. Other eccentric ingredients include balsamic vinegar, clam juice and A-1 steak sauce, which proves that there are no rules when making the perfect Bloody Mary.